Chapel Hill's Calvander & the Southern Artisan Cheese Fest
Cheese wise, my mind has been deep in the south. North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia..... Besides all those amazing wheels they're pumping out, it's possible that my current fascination has also been influenced by me getting hooked on fried pork skins and hush puppies during the ACS festival in Raleigh, or all the Carolina Chocolate Drops videos that I've been watching. Either way, I'm sold on the region and it's dairy.
Today I highlight one of my favorite southern beauties, Calvander. But the southern artisan dairy buck doesn't stop there! One of my favorite southern gals has put together a mean conference honoring the region's offerings. Check it out below. If you live close enough to visit, I'm jealous.
First, meet Chapel Hill's Calvander, above.
Made with raw Jersey milk, Calvander is an Asiago-style cheese made in Chapel Hill, Carolina. Portia McKnight and Flo Hurley, Chapel Hill's owners and cheesmakers, only make this wheel from March-December, when their pasture is best for grazing. The two started making cheese with plans of buying milk from local dairies to support the industry, but fell so in love with dairying and cows that they went full throttle. Now they own a farm and use all their own milk
The cheese is an easy-to-love one. Buttery, slightly herbal, with slight walnut flavors, Calvander is a subtle wheel that develops sharper, spicier notes from aging. It's semi-hard and grates well- good for melting when young, and for Parmesan-type activities when older (i.e. sprinkled over pasta). I like it with a Chardonnay (oak-friendly), Pinot Noir, or Viognier or white Rhone blend.
Where can you get it? Well, definitely in the south and in many areas of the east coast. I've also found it in smaller gourmet cheese shops in the bay area. Ask your monger! Or... sometimes my pal Kathleen Cotter at The Bloomy Rind ships from Tennessee.
Which brings us to....
Kathleen Cotter, an awesome gal I'm honored to call my friend, is a force in the southern cheese world. She single-handedly put together the first Southern Artisan Cheese Fest last year. And it sold out. The first year! Girl knows how to gather the artisan forces.
If you're in the area or want a little southern cheese love this October, I would highly encourage you to head to the festival. The list of cheesmakers and events is even lengthier than last year, promising even more deliciousness.
Here's a short list here:
AtlantaFresh Artisan Creamery GA | Belle Chevre AL | Bonnyclabber Country Cheese VA | Boone Creek Creamery KY | CalyRoad Creamery GA | Caromont Farm VA | Chapel Hill Creamery NC | Goat Lady Dairy NC | Heritage Homestead NC | Kenny's Farmhouse KY | Looking Glass Creamery NC | Manyfold Farm GA | Nature's Harmony GA | Noble Springs Dairy TN | Prodigal Farm NC | Round Mountain Creamery NC | Sequatchie Cove Creamery TN | Split Creek Farm SC | Stone Hollow Farmstead AL | Sweet Grass Dairy GA
Interested in pairing any sotuhern favorites to their alcohol counterparts? Check out this link to a southern cheese & spirits class I just taught.